This coming Sunday evening I will be teaching my last youth lesson for, well, let’s just say a while. We will be talking about ‘Why we do missions’. As I have been preparing this week, I was reminded of a presentation that I did for a school assembly 2 years ago that covered the title of this post. I have since used it a couple of times in a youth setting because it is so relevant to either.
I am sure that you have recognized that the word CARE is in the form of an acronym because you are a very perceptive reader. Its a simple 4 step presentation, that goes like this:
There is a country song that states, “you gotta stand for something or you will fall for anything.” Too many of us walk around having not defined what our core convictions are. These are those beliefs that we will not bend on regardless of circumstance. In Christian circles we would call them the ‘Christian World View’. They define our character – which is another C word that could have easily been used in the acronym.
I have posted in the past about a topic on the church where I stated my opinion on the need to have equal emphasis on Doctrine & Community. Another way those two words can be stated are Truth & Love. In order to C.A.R.E, we need to spend the time to define our convictions in light of the Truth that we have been given. I have spent 5 weeks defining missions to these youth. It starts with the Holy Spirit calling, leading, and empowering us to go to those places and persons in the times that He has ordained. That’s a lot to say in one simple sentence – just understand that the who, where, and when is directed by the Holy Spirit which is the how. I think we often go in our own power instead of in the Spirit’s. We could all use a deeper understanding of the presence behind the how.
Last week we defined the what. We looked at the actions of the early church and the commands that Christ gave to His followers. The easiest definition of ‘what’ in the mission context, is this: Meeting a need whether its phyiscal, emotional, financial, or spiritual. If you want some biblical passages to study, go to James 1:27 or Matthew 25. Those are just two of many.
The second part of that Truth & Love pairing is very important and cannot be separated from the first, otherwise, as Paul would say, “…but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”.
Ok, so I cheat a little with using the Italian word form of love. But I do this because we have to define love and that’s best done by understanding these three aspects:
- Eros – That love that is shared between man and wife.
- Phileo – Brotherly love or common courtesy.
- Agape – Unconditional love.
I could have easily slippd Agape into the second part of CARE but then would miss out on helping people understand that we misuse and misunderstand love because we generalize its usage. For example, we will tell our spouses that we love them and then tell our co-worker that we would love to go and have lunch because we love that restaurant. I think you see what I mean. We also confuse emotions with love – such as infatuation or lust.
So what is love? Read this well-known scripture in its KJV translation;
Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.
You are probably used to this verse reading ‘love’ where the word charity is used and you may even prefer it that way instead of this way. But consider this: What image does charity bring to mind? Do you see something being given away without an expectation of recompense?
Charity has taken on a negative connotation in our culture but it is a noble action where the giver gives without expectation. Christ had this to say about the greatest possible love, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ” Both of these verses are about agape – unconditional action. Jim Henderson and Matt Caspar used a term, non-manipulative intentionality, in their book when describing how they felt Christians should carry out their mandate. When we do things out of an expectation of something in return, that isn’t love, its manipulation.
Love is action whose purest form is sacrificial.
I could go on for pages about this subject but I think enough has been said to bring across the importance of love combined with our convictions. By the way, you will notice that I highlighted part of the passage which supports my beliefs that truth and love are important to each other.
To whom much has been given, much is required.
If I were to use a more contemporary form of this sentiment, it would be: Man Up! The problem with that modern quote is that our society is quickly losing the idea of what a true man looks like. The problem with the first quote is that most of us struggle with recognizing how much we have been given.
We, as Christians, are supposed to understand Grace by recognizing the extent of mercy that was granted to us. If we come to a point where we can say, “Yes, I understand the enormity of what was given to me on Calvary’ we have to accept the responsibility that comes with that realization. We are to be kingdom workers! In fact, Christ directed us to pray in this manner:
“Our father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”
Those highlighted words are not about us giving permission for God to do His thing but a commitment to His kingdom work. How is God’s kingdom carried out in heaven? Immediately! I don’t believe the angels slouch about their duties when directed by the Lord. And, so, we are to pray in agreement to the responsibility of obeying His will in our lives as kingdom workers here on Earth.
Those first three letters spell CAR which is a vehicle for transporting people or objects. In this instance, our CAR, or vehicle, is faith. It is our trust that God will do what He says He will do. When we recognize that, we can more easily accept the last part of this presentation.
Christ told those listening to His sermon from the mount that they were not to worry about tomorrow. Just as God takes care of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, He would look after their needs all the more. Our CARE recognizes that all of life is a mission in which we are responsible for sharing grace with those we come in contact with. God is going to take care of everything else.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So why do we do missions?